Sales forms the core business function for any organization – across different industries and domains. People working in this function often reach out to the target audience to promote their services or products. This involves a lot of strategizing, traveling, meeting new people, and closing deals to achieve important company goals. Because of these reasons, sales work is truly fast-paced. There’s a constant hustle to find leads, make pitches, and convert deals.
Working in sales is all about having relationship-building, communicating, and negotiating skills, coupled with much subject matter expertise and domain-specific knowledge.
Through this guide, let’s look at the different career options available for people in the sales domain.
Sales Development Representative (SDR)
Sales development representatives, also known as business development representatives, are often responsible for the first step in the sales funnel – bringing in qualified leads. To do this, they are required to conduct thorough market research, find prospective clients, reach out to people and make the pitch, and decide whether or not a lead is ready to move down the sales funnel.
Since this role requires many interpersonal skills, SDRs must have strong communication and negotiation skills and the ability to understand the various nuances of any product and leave a lasting impression on their audience.
Once the SDR determines if a prospect is ready to be contacted by the sales team, that person is sent over to a closing representative who takes all the further steps required to close the deal brought in by the SDR successfully.
Depending on the company you’re working for, SDR salaries can be base salary, commission-based, or a combination of both. As per Glassdoor, the average base salary for an SDR is $50,936, and according to PayScale, the average range is from $5,000 to $30,000.
The SDR role is perfect for freshers in sales looking to get more experience and climb up the ladder. Since this job role requires only preliminary skills, it is a good option for building a sustainable sales career. While working in this role, you will gain skills such as researching, communicating via calls and emails, understanding products, and organizing leads, which will help you across different roles in your Sales journey.
Account managers take on the more responsible role of building and maintaining client relationships. This is easily one of the most important aspects of a growing business – improper client relationships are often the reason behind the failure of many businesses.
People working as Account Managers work with customers once they have made the first purchase and act as the sole point of contact on behalf of the company. In that sense, they act as the perfect bridge between the customer and the company. Throughout their job role, Account Managers maintain relationships, understand needs, act as advocates for clients, and stay up-to-date on any information about the product or the industry.
AMs are evaluated on their ability to retain customers and fulfill satisfaction metrics. The main goal of Account Managers is to help a business increase its profits by supporting customers to improve their ROI on purchases. As a result, account managers often contact salespeople if an opportunity to upsell arises. In 2021, the average base salary for an account manager was $60,090, and the average commission ranges from $3,000 to $40,000.
Once you have earned some experience in sales, the next role is that of an account executive. This is a highly responsibility-led role focused on finding prospective clients’ needs, giving them the required demos, and providing them with the education needed to convert and finalize the sales.
If you have 2-5 years of experience in sales and are passionate about collaborating with different clients, an Account Executive role would be perfect for you. An Account Executive’s performance is measured on the number of leads they close. As a result, this job role requires constant hard work and communications to ensure that the leads are converted. The average base salary for an account executive in 2021 was $60,000, and commission can range from $5,000 to $50,000.
Regional Sales Manager
Regional Sales Managers are higher up the ladder in sales job roles. These people are responsible for monitoring and managing SDRs, sales reps, and account managers. Together with them, regional managers create data-backed strategies to help companies meet their business goals.
People in this role should be great at motivating and monitoring salespeople. This requires team building and people management skills. Plus, they should know how things work. Regional Sales Managers are also responsible for all the hiring and firing procedures and even for performance appraisals and reviews. This role is a well-paying one.
Director of Sales
Directors of Sales are responsible for maintaining the end-to-end quality of a sales team. For this, they work closely with managers and executives to develop strategies, set goals, and chalk out a detailed roadmap. These people create a vision for the sales team to follow and live up to.
To become a director of sales, you will need to have a lot of in-depth understanding of how businesses work, along with some experience of working in managerial positions. In addition, you will be a leader responsible for guiding a team, so the requirements for this position are equally strict.
VP of Sales
Vice President of Sales is the next step in the sales ladder after the Director of Sales. This role works on a national scale to manage and supervise sales executives and ensure that the company’s sales targets are met and strategies are appropriately rolled out.
To reach this point in your career, you’ll need to diligently work your way up the ladder by working in different sales jobs and roles and understanding the nuances of how sales works. Only then will you be able to supervise managers on a national level. However, this sudden increase in responsibilities does not come without an increase in compensation.
Chief Sales Officer
Chief Sales Officers are at the top of the sales ladder. This is a scarce and highly competitive role usually found at large multinational companies. For anybody looking to develop a long-running sales career, this is the pinnacle that you should target. This role demands highly-honed skills in leadership, business development, revenue growth tactics, and strategy-making skills. They work to boost business sales and profits and perform essential tasks like sales forecasting, setting targets, managing execution, reporting results, and working cross-functionally in a seamless manner.
Sales is truly a rewarding career – both in terms of the responsibilities you take up and the compensation you are paid. What’s best is that this field is open to anyone curious to learn, experiment, and grow. At upGrad, we have mentored students from around the globe and helped them reach their full potential. Our MBA course from Liverpool Business School is designed to help you start your journey in the world of sales and climb up relentlessly with our support and guidance.
If you decide to start your career in Sales, upGrad’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) can work as the ideal course for you.
Can I work in sales as a fresher?
Sure, there are many job roles - like SDRs, Sales Reps, and even Account Managers - that welcome curious and talented freshers.
2. Does working in sales require knowing statistics?
Since your work in sales will primarily be converting clients and reporting your conversions to your team leads, it will be beneficial if you have a basic understanding of statistics and how to describe your data.
3. Do I need to have any specific educational background to work in sales?
Not necessarily. However, having a business management degree helps.